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House votes for Peru FTA

Today the House of Representatives voted 285-132 to approve the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement. The Senate now has to consider legislation implementing the agreement. In the House vote, only 109 Democrats voted in favor of the trade pact, reflecting strong anti-trade sentiment fueled by labor unions.

Democratic leadership had struck a bargain with the Administration this past summer to include enforceable labor and environmental provisions in all the pending and new trade agreements. The Peru pact was the first one to be voted on with those provisions. Still pending are deals with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea, which will face much tougher battles.

Peru has been trading with the U.S. under preferential agreements approved by Congress, which provide that most goods can enter the U.S. duty-free; but this pact provides surety over the long-term.

According to the U.S. Trade Representative, under the agreement, 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Peru will become duty-free immediately, with remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years. More than two-thirds of current U.S. farm exports will become duty-free immediately.

The Senate is expected to approve the Peru FTA, probably before Christmas recess.